The organization that produces Marin Open Studio is attempting to stay relevant in these lock-down times by offering artists opportunities to participate in online, juried shows. The current theme is “A Sense of Place”, inspired by the recent passing of San Geronimo Valley artist, Connie Smith Siegel. Connie’s trust also contributed an award. Steve received an Honorable Mention and is featured in the short film of the prize winners.
Steve has a long connection with this show title, going back to his college days at UCSC. “While an art student, I had a class with Alan Gussow, from the Hudson River Valley in New York, an artist and activist who had run for Congress. He took our class down to the French-intensive Farm Project to paint & teach the lessons of the importance of land use and landscape. His many paintings of his own garden, compost and harvest were personal and reflected in his unique language of paint. He had written a book, and made a film, “A Sense of Place”, featuring artists in “their” place, throughout the U.S.. It was a slice of artists engaged with the light in those locations, their uniqueness and the artist’s relationship within these varied landscapes. When their work was seen over time, the elements varied, but not their connection, their immersion & love of, and for, their place. The smells, the temperature, the humidity, the light, the land usage, were all part of the language of these artists. 

 Steve entered a painting which he felt best represented a place in the Sierra he has considered home since 1958. He returns each year to fully engage in every part of this intimate, but glacial-sculpted stretch of stream. During the ’80’s Connie and several other artist friends joined Steve & Kathleen, so this place also brought back the spirit of Connie. There is a great photo of Connie sliding down one of the longer granite slides, a look of horror & thrill on her face! Steve’s painting was this same particular granite slide.“ We returned this year, a week before the Creek Fire exploded in flame, burning everything surrounding this place, but not this stretch of creek and the fire continued to burn into the canyon we backpacked into last year. I chose to enter this piece for these personal, emotional reasons, but also for the “sense” or “sensation”, of sitting at the top of this slide. As a kid, you wiggle your butt to get some slickness on your sliders, then look down, anticipating all that compels one to even attempt this: the cold, deep pool at the end, the possibility of missing the turn, the excitement, the thrill, the fear.”

“To start this painting, I took a photo of the top of this slide and I worked on a 3 x 3′ canvas, a larger size for me. As I worked from the photo, I was an observer of a place, but not a participant in the place. So, I tried placing myself at the top, as a kid, and who I am now, with the same sensations, and the painting changed in this direction. The vertigo inducing concentric circles evolved to better plunge over the edge. Remnants of the realism remain, but all else was a search for that overwhelming sense of that very seat. As an artist, I was extremely satisfied with the result. It was a total immersion of,  and in, that place. 

Understandably, not many have sat at the top of a natural water slide, experienced this fluid and active sense of place, recognizing the intent, or execution of something  both intimate & universal. Hopefully, this gives insight into this painting and what inspires Steve’s Sense of Place.